[Note from Frolic: We’re stoked to welcome author Karen White to the site today! She’ s sharing her must-haves for a great day. Take it away, Karen!]
Despite my desire to live the kind of writer’s life the rest of the world seems to think we live (think Barbara Cartland: feather boas, chaise longue, small fluffy dog), the reality–except for the fluffy dog part–is that this writer’s life is full of stress and in much need of comfort items to get me through the tough times.
The number one spot on this list belongs to coffee. So. Much. Coffee. Light roast (because it has the most caffeine). I don’t have a particular cup I use as long as it meets my requirement of being a) large and b) ceramic/china/porcelain. I do not drink out of paper cups (sorry, Starbucks!) unless I’m truly desperate. When on tour I actually pack a ceramic mug just in case. It’s my only nod towards diva-ness that I allow myself. I come from generations of women who can drink fully-leaded caffeine up until bedtime and still fall asleep immediately and stay asleep (except for the midnight run to the bathroom because, well, coffee). Sadly, it doesn’t keep me awake, but it does keep me more alert. And happy. My family knows not to talk to me until I’ve had my first cup.
I have a sitting room with a coffee bar that I have to walk through in the morning en route from the bed to my bathroom so that my first cup of coffee is in my hands by the time I’ve brushed my teeth. When I’m done drinking it, I’m ready to face the day and whatever it has in store. At least until it’s time for my second cup.
2. A Fluffy Dog
Or two, in my case. They remind me on an hourly basis not to take myself so seriously. To sit outside and watch the leaves rustle, or a squirrel scamper, or stare at the sky. I do refrain from barking, but enjoy the fresh air and the ability of nature to calm me and give me a fresh perspective. When I’m tired or frustrated, my dogs seem to know instinctively to come sit next to me (or on top of me or my laptop) and allow me to stroke their soft fur and play with their adorable ears. It’s an immediate stress-reducer. Obviously, because of their importance to my well-being and productivity as a writer, I should be able to deduct their cute outfits and kerchiefs as a work-related expense. Sadly, my hateful accountant says no.
Extra super-duper dark chocolate. Yes, it’s a cliché, but I can’t live a day without my ration of chocolate. And I do ration it—just two small squares a day. I eat them with my eighth cup of coffee mid-afternoon. I could eat a truck-load of dark chocolate, but—according to my hateful doctor—that would negate the chocolate’s health benefits. And there are so many health benefits to dark chocolate. It’s crammed with antioxidants, can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, and may reduce heart disease risk. It’s practically medicine, but oh so tasty! I may have to increase my daily ration. For health reasons, of course.
4. A Screen Porch
I’m lucky enough to have three of these. One even has a swing with custom-made cup holders in the extra-wide arm rests with slots for coffee mug handles and deep enough for a wine glass. This way I can transition from morning coffee to wine o’clock without having to move. Feeling the breeze during the day and smelling the night air at night (sans the bugs) are magical to me and almost impossible to enjoy in the South without a porch with screens (unless you enjoy being eaten alive by mosquitoes and other biting insects, or dive-bombed by large flying bugs that are big enough to open the front door if they had a key).
I’m sitting on a screened porch now while typing this and am enjoying watching birds chirp and peck at the feeder and hearing a distant plane drone overhead while a late-summer breeze shakes the tall pines at the edge of the woods behind our house. No cicadas right now, but every time I hear one, nostalgia grabs hold of me and I’m back at my grandmother’s house in Mississippi sitting on her screened porch, listening to her stories with the background music of the outside world waiting just beyond the screens.
5. Beach Music by Pat Conroy
A copy of Pat Conroy’s Beach Music. My love of South Carolina’s Lowcountry began with this book. Conroy created pictures with words as few authors can. His stories and characters were always brilliant, but it was his sense of place and descriptions of his settings that initially sucked me into this book especially. The natural beauty of the Lowcountry is exotic, lulling, and unlike any other place in the world. Reading Conroy’s descriptions of it transports me there every time.
Just writing this list has made me feel better, and certainly less stressed. I think I’ll go fix myself another cup of coffee now, then sit on the porch swing with my dogs and stare at birds in the backyard while eating a piece of chocolate and reading favorite passages from Beach Music. I think it’s going to be a very good day.
About the Author:
With almost two million books in print in fifteen different languages, Karen White is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 24 novels, including the popular Charleston-set Tradd Street Mystery series.
Raised in a house full of brothers, Karen’s love of books and strong female characters first began in the third grade when the local librarian issued her a library card and placed The Secret of the Old Clock, a Nancy Drew Mystery, in her hands.
Karen’s roots run deep in the South where many of her novels are set. Her intricate plot lines and compelling characters charm and captivate readers with just the right mix of family drama, mystery, intrigue and romance.
Connect with Karen:
The Christmas Spirits on Tradd Street by Karen White, out now!
Melanie Trenholm should be anticipating Christmas with nothing but joy—after all, it’s only the second Christmas she and her husband, Jack, will celebrate with their twin toddlers. But the ongoing excavation of the centuries-old cistern in the garden of her historic Tradd Street home has been a huge millstone, both financially and aesthetically. Local students are thrilled by the possibility of unearthing more Colonial-era artifacts at the cistern, but Melanie is concerned by the ghosts connected to it that have suddenly invaded her life and her house—and at least one of them is definitely not filled with holiday cheer….
And these relics aren’t the only precious artifacts for which people are searching. A past adversary is convinced there is a long-lost Revolutionary War treasure buried somewhere on the property Melanie inherited—untold riches rumored to have been brought over from France by the Marquis de Lafayette himself and intended to help the Colonial war effort. It’s a treasure literally fit for a king, and there have been whispers throughout history that many have already killed—and died—for it. And now someone will stop at nothing to possess it—even if it means destroying everything Melanie and Jack hold dear.